Rise of the Golden Cobra
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Rise of the Golden Cobra

by Henry T. Aubin, Stephen Taylor, Stephen M. Taylor
     
 

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A young scribe with revenge on his mind. A pharaoh's war for the honor of Egypt. An action-packed tale from ancient history.

During a picnic overlooking the Nile, 14-year-old scribe Nebi spots the riders first. Led by the treacherous Count Nimlot, the raiding party slaughters Nebi's master, the region's head of police. Although wounded, Nebi -- knowing that the

Overview

A young scribe with revenge on his mind. A pharaoh's war for the honor of Egypt. An action-packed tale from ancient history.

During a picnic overlooking the Nile, 14-year-old scribe Nebi spots the riders first. Led by the treacherous Count Nimlot, the raiding party slaughters Nebi's master, the region's head of police. Although wounded, Nebi -- knowing that the pharaoh's northern territory is no longer secure -- escapes as the only living witness.

Nebi is quickly catapulted into events that will change history. Set in 728 B.C., Rise of the Golden Cobra surrounds the actual reign of Pharaoh Piankhy, the brilliant and compassionate leader whose astonishing campaign united ancient Egypt.

Nebi's adventures take him to the court of Piankhy himself, to friendship with feisty Prince Shebitku, and to war. Fierce battles culminate in the siege of Memphis, where Nebi finally confronts Nimlot and his own desire for revenge. Well-served by the pharaoh's honorable example, Nebi finds release in letting Nimlot live. Meanwhile, Piankhy's victory unites North and South Egypt, making him the one true pharaoh entitled to wear the golden cobra crown.

Bursting with action and political intrigue, and rich in historical detail and dramatic illustrations, Rise of the Golden Cobra is an epic adventure for the ages.

Editorial Reviews

Montreal Gazette
A fine yarn -- a good old-fashioned page-turner with a solid historical grounding.
Calliope
Fast-paced and exciting.
Canadian Children's Book Centre
Finalist, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction
Finalist, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction
School Library Journal

Gr 6-10 - Aubin draws his audience into Egypt in the eighth century B.C.E. with his sharp, sympathetic focus on 14-year-old Nebamon. Nebi survives a brutal attack led by an Egyptian count who has decided to betray his prior allegiance to Piankhy, king of Kush and ruler of southern Egypt through his sister, Princess Amonirdis. The princess recognizes Nebi's bravery and loyalty in struggling so hard to bring her news of the treachery, and the boy is privileged to join the medical corps that will travel north with the army, intent on saving Egypt from division and those who would cooperate with the imperial ambitions of a resurgent Assyria. By depicting major battles, their aftermaths, and the disagreements of Piankhy's officials and officers, Aubin keeps the pages turning, even while exposing readers to tactics, weapons, and philosophical differences. Nebi's maturation, both physically and emotionally, and his growing friendship with Prince Shebitku, provides a small-scale, human counterweight to the larger events. The book's climax may both please and disappoint readers. Piankhy's triumph is well earned, though his insistence on forgiveness of rebels may rankle youngsters longing for revenge. Likewise Nebi, when finally in a position to avenge the brutality that opens the book, realizes what hatred can do and steps back from doing what "feels right." The writing is solid and interesting rather than artistic and distinguished. Even so, this is a well-crafted and intriguing adventure that exposes students to a different world, even as it offers them danger, excitement, and the opportunity to ponder serious moral issues.-Coop Renner, Hillside Elementary, El Paso, TX

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781554510597
Publisher:
Annick Press, Limited
Publication date:
04/13/2007
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
5.64(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range:
11 - 15 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: The Attack

No one saw the riders gallop over the grassy ridge. No one saw them pause and draw swords.

The three picnickers lay on their elbows in a meadow overlooking the Nile River. They were feeling contented after a dessert of honey pastries. A blue cotton canopy, held up by poles, shielded them from the scorching Egyptian sun. A hound proudly watched as her puppies raced after sticks the picnickers tossed. Even she did not notice the riders.

A servant spotted them first. He had been gathering the remains of the picnic, stacking the earthen dishes in a cart. He was a slim 14-year-old, with the sharp features and mellow tan skin of most Egyptians. "Master Setka!" he said. He jerked his head toward the ridge.

The master, heavy-set and balding, stopped his arm in midthrow. Like his host, he was barechested and dressed in a white linen kilt and sandals.
Unlike the others, his skin was deep brown, the color of mahogany. What remained of his wiry hair was gray. His brow furrowed with concern.

"They look like the Mesh," said Setka. He spoke in Egyptian, so that the others could understand, but his accent and dark hue marked him as a visitor from Kush. That prosperous land lay just to the south of the Two Lands, as North and South Egypt were often called.

The Kushite sprang to his feet with agility uncommon for someone of his girth. His companions, a stiffly moving Egyptian and his petite wife, also rose. From the Egyptian man's neck dangled a bronze medallion indicating his rank as the province's chief of police.

"Mesh?" said the woman. "That can't be."

"We never see them this far south," said the police chief.

The boy-servant saw the chief grope for a sword at his hip. But it was not there. Earlier in the day, the boy had heard the chief brag to his Kushite guest that there was no need to bring weapons. After all, they were in young Count Nimlot's province, a part of South Egypt that lay in and around Khmun, where Nimlot's family had ruled for generations. The family had long protected its subjects from the Mesh, known for their appetite for war. Originally from arid Libya, the Mesh had drifted into North Egypt's lush Nile Delta centuries before, enlisting as soldiers in pharaohs' armies. Because of their fighting skill, they had eventually become a power in their own right.

The 10 riders approached at a trot. All but one had the pale skin and brown or reddish hair of the Mesh. Their unshaven faces and unkempt tunics showed they were not soldiers but either brigands or swords-for-hire. They rode mules rather than horses, a sign they had yet to make their fortune.

The tenth member of the group was in the center. He was about 16 years old, an Egyptian with close-cropped black hair. Elegantly groomed, he rode a magnificent white stallion. Like the male picnickers, he wore a white linen kilt, but also a vest of black leather with bronze studs and shoulder pads, as if to try to conceal his leanness. A cape striped in green and yellow billowed from his shoulders.

"Count Nimlot!" exclaimed the police chief, recognizing the family colors.

"I don't understand," said the woman. "Why is he with these thugs?" She looked anxiously at her husband.

"He can mean no harm," said the police chief. After all, Count Nimlot of Khmun employed him to keep the peace, just as the young lord's late father had done until his death six years before. But no sooner had the chief spoken than the hound's barking stopped. An arrow had pierced her chest. She lay in the high grass, whimpering. The intruders laughed. Next to
Nimlot was a fleshy, redbearded archer with a peculiar tattoo-some kind of greenish design stretched uninterrupted across both his arms and his beefy chest. He raised his bow in mock triumph.

"Perhaps if I give them my jewelry they'll leave," said the woman. Her necklace and three bracelets were gold.

"It's our lives he wants," Setka said matter-of-factly. Though a stranger to the region, he was the first to grasp the situation.

"Our chariot!" shouted the police chief. But the chariot, parked beside the cart that had brought the servants, was useless. Both horses were unhitched and grazing. Harnessing them would take too long. The chief cursed. "And no weapons either," he said. "Unarmed, an officer cannot die in battle with honor!"

It was then that the chief noticed the boy-servant. He was pulling the squeaky-wheeled cart behind him and ambling toward the three picnickers, a long blade of grass in his mouth. The boy appeared unconcerned about the riders, now a stone's throw away.

As the boy reached the picnickers, he bent to pick up more plates. Furious that a servant should be preoccupied with a petty chore at this moment, the police chief kicked the dishes, sending them clattering to the ground. "Idiot!" he said.

The servant's master pointed to the cart. "No -- look!"

In it lay two hunting javelins and a skinning knife that the party had brought along that morning. The boy-servant lackadaisically folded the picnic cloth and placed it in the cart, hiding the arms.

The riders pulled their mounts up short. In the fashion of Mesh fighters, most boasted sidelocks -- braided sideburns, glistening with oil, that hung to their shoulders.

The servant shuffled behind the picnickers and started taking down the four tall poles that held up the canopy. He struggled to maintain a dull-eyed appearance while a year-old memory flashed before him.

Sitting high in the palm tree overlooking his house, hidden in its fan-like leaves, he hears hooves and the jangle of weapons. He is picking the dom nuts his little brother has begged him to get. Three Mesh riders enter the village, a cluster of sun-dried mud-brick houses. They ask directions from a frightened neighbor, then dismount. Never looking up, they tether their mules to the palm. Sidelocks swinging, they stride toward the door of one house -- his.

From his roost, he can see into the courtyard of his house. His mother is stirring supper. Smoke from the charcoal burner curls upward. Wia, his three-year-old sister, sits on her lap, playing with her mother's braid. When the strangers burst in, Mother clutches Wia and runs out through the same door the men have entered.

He raises his eyes to the field beyond the house. Unaware, his father is pulling the wooden plow.

"Whoa, you dumb beast!" Count Nimlot jerked his large stallion to a halt in front of the picnickers.

As he tugged at a canopy pole, the servant sized up the young noble. He had a hatchet nose, and since his skull was long and narrow like his body, his whole head gave the impression of an ax blade. His eyes, cold and hard, bored into the group like drills.

The police chief sought to put the best face on things. "Your Grace!" he said, bowing. "It gladdens us to see you. Come and dismount, My Lord, and your companions as well, and join us in our meal with my wife and our honored guest, a merchant from Kush."

Nimlot smiled coldly. "I know all about your guest. He is no merchant."

At this moment, Nimlot saw something that made him frown. One servant -- a slope-shouldered, middle-aged man -- had untethered one of the horses. As the man frantically galloped away bareback, the count turned to the red-bearded archer beside him. "No witnesses," he said.

The tattooed man nodded. He nocked an arrow on his bowstring.

The boy-servant, still picking up the poles, glimpsed the older servant dropping into the grass.

Nimlot returned his gaze to his police chief. "As you see," he said, waving his arm toward his companions, "I am with the Mesh. Our old enemies are now my friends."

"This is treason!

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Meet the Author

Henry T. Aubin is an award-winning journalist for the Montreal Gazette and the author of three non-fiction books for adults. This is his first work for younger readers.

Stephen Taylor is the illustrator of several books for children, including Music from the Sky and the award-winning One More Border. He lives in Toronto.

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